Is ACTA the New WIPO?

It has been readily apparent for a number of months now that "counterfeiting and piracy" is the new focal point for intellectual property policy reform.  With global conferences, legislative hearings in national capitals, and new anti-counterfeiting coalitions, copyright lobby groups have jumped on the anti-counterfeiting bandwagon.  While the claims regularly focus on health and safety risks or suggestions that organized crime or terrorist groups benefit from counterfeiting, the reality is that the policy prescription typically includes a range of issues that have little to do with those issues.  These include anti-circumvention legislation, higher damages, and an increased use of public tax dollars to provide protection for private commercial interests. 

The strategy has proven remarkably effective.  Despite the absence of any independent data (indeed, there is evidence that some numbers have been fabricated), politicians are easily convinced that action is needed since the lobbyists often come armed with compelling props (exploded batteries, unsafe toys) and no one actually supports counterfeiting.  Of course, the issue is not whether you are for or against counterfeiting, but rather whether the proposed reforms have anything to do with health and safety or significant economic concerns.

Having placed counterfeiting on both domestic (see the recent government response and attempts to create an IP caucus) and bi-lateral agendas (including the SPP and the G8), yesterday the U.S. unveiled an even more ambitious goal – a new international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Given the recent backlash at WIPO, the U.S. is avoiding the U.N. system.  Instead, it has created a new counterfeiting coalition of the willing that includes the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, and Canada.  Those countries yesterday simultaneously announced enthusiastic support for a new trade agreement with negotiations to begin next year.  Indeed, International Trade Minister David Emerson's announcement to the House of Commons brought the MPs to their feet.

This treaty could ultimately prove bigger than WIPO – without the constraints of consensus building, developing countries, and civil society groups, the ACTA could further reshape the IP landscape with tougher enforcement, stronger penalties, and a gradual eradication of the copyright and trademark balance.


  1. Mr
    … can one stop from being so discouraged?

    I swear, were I to see any politician who supported or even applauded cross the road, I would have to think real hard about hitting the brakes.

  2. Yet another prime example of the Politician’s Fallacy:
    Something must be done.
    This is something.
    Therefore this must be done!

  3. Life immitates art…

    From the Movie Chocolate:

    The Count De Renoute says “Something must be done about these radicals”…

    And so a villager sets the radicals boat on fire with all the people on board…

    Later on when the Count confronts the villager… “You said something must be done!”

  4. 1984…
    All I have to say is that this kind of thing scares me quite a bit…

  5. lucychili
    Lessig describes this as government only being able to hear \”as money would tell it\”.
    ie the social, ecological realities which these rules are made on behalf of do not have any voice or power in the processes.

    Thanks MG for the heads up.

  6. I say down with ACTA…now. This is the most insane thing I’ve heard proposed as a possible law in a free country yet.

  7. ACTA
    okay, so, i’ve gathered as many facts as i can about this and all i can ask is this.

    What can I (the average Canadian) do about it? and also, how can i be assured that my MP will even listen to what i have to say and represent my concerns? (which is what they’re paid to do, as far as i know.)

    this is incredibly disheartening. up until this point i had been proud to be canadian, but now all i wonder is wether i should now be ashamed of my country.

  8. yesweareangry says:

    Is ACTA the New WIPO?
    I have decided that most politicians simply hate America and want to destroy our country. It seems they keep inventing new ways to take away freedom, sensor the press, and terrorize the general public, depriving us of the power of our votes, and seek to control the country by rule of an extremely closed elite in secret, all things which our Constitution is expressly written to avoid and which our founding fathers explicitly warned us not to do.

    But they do it.

    I don\’t buy the\” they were duped by the industry\” line. These people attended the best schools in the country and have advanced degrees in law and political theory. They know exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it on purpose, because they figure they\’ll be retired, dead, or able to shift the responsibility onto the public by the time people figure out what they are doing.

    We have to fight back censorship, now not just nationally but globally. They won\’t come to Seattle anymore, because they know we\’ll all take a day off from work to give them a thumping, like we did in \’99 and again at the FCC conference here last year. So we\’ll have to hunt them down all over the planet and stand up and shout back at their faces, film them and put them on the internet, and educate our people as to who they are and how they operate.

    I don\’t want 100 channels of horsecrap. I want real real information. I didn\’t start this fight, but I will sure be willing to pull together with other citizens to finish it.

    People are angry. These industry people are idiots. They don\’t know the global firestorm they are whipping up against them.

  9. No Damn Way
    Ok, this sickens me. I just found out about this yesteday, and I live online! I’ve been telling everyone I see about this thing.

    But that’s not enough.

    I’m gonna lose friends over this, but they were worthless anyway. If you hear this news and continue with your head in the sand life… Worthless.

    I am a god damned Canadian. The govt is a minority. We can bring it down for this! How dare they govern as kings! HOW DARE THEY! Secret deals? Fait Accompli? What?

    Think it over: what has changed in the MPAA/RIAA business plan since Napster? Not a damn thing! Only Apple has innovated for the age, and people use the service! Instead they want to guarantee their fat profits in the face of a plan changing technology? Hold US back so they can keep going to their high priced whores, whisky, and blow parties ?

    No way.

    Let’s get er goin. And soon, because July 2008 is less than a month away.

  10. Reverse Lookup
    yesweareangry wrote:
    > So we’ll have to hunt them down all over the planet and
    > stand up and shout back at their faces, film them and
    > put them on the internet, and educate our people as to
    > who they are and how they operate.

    Yup. Including the cops during their laptop and digital assistant searches and confiscations if they dare.
    Any cop who dares to harrass and threaten me or anyone I see physically with regard to our laptops (or digital assistants, cellphones, etc.) and ACTA is taking a serious risk.
    In the mean time, educate yourselves and people about the philosophy behind freedom and information (maybe look at the film ‘stealthisfilm’ or sites like EFF, FSF, PLOS,, etc.) and P2P software and technology like ‘wireless mesh networks’ (apparently takes ISP’s out of the hands/control of corporations and into people’s) decentralized trackers maybe like the Cubit plugin for Azureus, and so forth.
    Cryptography-related can be fun too.

    Like the atlantic cod fisheries that ran out of cod, to the media (movies, books, audio, etc.) producers:
    Get a new business model or get out of the business. Avoid resorting to police-state laws and measures against your own people. 1984 came and went. Try your hands at working in a mine or garbage recycling plant instead. Sell your Lexus/Hummer/Porshe SUV’s to the homeless for shelter.

    [ link ] wrote:
    > Doesn’t it make you feel better to know that border
    > guards and “other public security personnel” will be
    > the front-line arbiters in determining whether your
    > copy of Flo Rida’s new album infringes any copyrights?

    In considering your typical cop or border-guard, do you think that they might have some questionable info on their own laptops/PDA’s/Cellphones?
    It might be interesting to hear of a story about one whose laptop was stolen and found to contain much of what it was that they searched others’ for at the borders, and whose contents were subsequently posted online in their entirety. With pics and names it would be easy to find where they resided.

  11. Donate
    From my previous post, the statement; “Sell your Lexus/Hummer/Porshe SUV’s to the homeless for shelter.”, should, instead, read;
    ‘Donate your Lexus/Hummer/Porshe SUV’s to the homeless for shelter.’
    Thank you. 🙂